Shower Plumbing Help Needed

dcwesleyMarch 7, 2013

We are launching our complete master bath remodel. We have long had 2 shower heads in our 3’ x 5’ shower. We are going to go with two Moen Velocity rainheads in this build. DH has suggested we also add a handheld for rinsing the shower. These leads me to a couple questions.

Have others done this? Is it silly to have what amounts to three shower heads, two on one wall, and one on the opposite wall?

In our old shower we had one valve that controlled both shower heads, which worked well for us. We would still like the two rain heads to be controlled by one valve. I am looking for input on how to control the handheld. A diverter? A second valve?

If our primary reason for the handheld is to clean the shower, would you still get one on a slidebar?

One thing that concerns me is many reviews which coment on the "cheap" or "plastic" look of handhelds or the hose. Any suggestions on a model which would look nice with the rainheads?

Thanks for all of your help?

This post was edited by dcwesley on Thu, Mar 7, 13 at 22:40

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Having a handheld is nice not just for cleaning, but for times when you're ill or injured and standing is just not an option much less pulling yourself up out of a tub. I just did the big clean in our shower yesterday and the handshower makes wetting down & rinsing SOOOOOO much easier.

Just to clarify--in your old shower setup, both shower heads would run when you turned the water on without having the ability to run just 1 at a time? If so, this may a great opportunity to install a diverter which would allow you to run both main heads at once, one head and the handshower at once or just 1 head at a time. Being able to concentrate all the water flow to 1 shower head at a time should help increase the water pressure as well, plus there will be less water wastage (huge if you're on a water meter). Another option is to go with 1 regular shower head and 1 handheld on the slidebar and use both as you currently do now. The slidebar would allow you to adjust the handshower to whatever height you desire and would likely satisfy your worry over the look of 3 shower heads in there. The slidebar would also come in handy if you need to have the showerhead placed lower in case of injury or illness to allow for greater accessibility.

Quality-wise, most if not all handhelds are plastic for safety reasons--for both you and the shower material. Imagine dropping a heavy metal showerhead and hitting your foot. Or it hitting the tile floor and cracking it. We used to have a cheap plastic shower head in our last house ($18 at Lowes) that kept falling out of it's holder. Just the cheap plastic one hurt horribly when it would hit you--I can't imagine a heavy metal one. The plastic ones have the same finish as the coordinated fixtures, so you really shouldn't notice any difference just looking at it. On a side note, do play with the holders in the showroom as you're looking to ensure that the holder is not made cheaply. If the mechanism is weak and allows the handheld to slide out very easily (with just a nudge), it won't stay in one position/releases due to the weight of the hand held, or the handheld doesn't seem to be sitting in the holder deep enough, then look at different holder styles. Usually, you can pair up most any holder with most any hand held within the same brand.

As far as the hose goes, we didn't care for the metal hoses especially when it came to cleaning all those grooves. Ours is a Delta and they have coordinated hoses for their different finish colors. Our hose is metal with a dark tubing over top to coordinate with the antique pewter finish on our fixtures. Takes just a second to clean and blends right in.

I've linked to Moen's handheld site below. They don't make one in the Velocity line, but there are several that would coordinate with it. Additionally, here's a few that you might like from Delta that would coordinate nicely with the Moen Velocity:

Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Moen Handheld Shower Heads

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Be really sure that you want those rainheads. Most people don't really like them once they experience them. For everyday showering, most prefer a standard head and a handshower.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:55PM
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DC, it's not clear from your OP if the two shower heads included a handheld as one of the two (I am going to assume no). If you haven't experienced a handheld on a slidebar, you may not realize how handy it really is (no pun intended...LOL). I actually never use it to clean the shower, but use it everyday to clean 'me'. Also really good for rinsing out shampoo, etc...

Are you using the two rainheads for when showering with two people at once? I would like to have a divertor so that when I only needed one, I could turn the other one off.

Live Wire brings up a good point. I've only showered with an overhead (don't think it was an actual rainhead) shower once, it was an unmemorable experience. (Now, I have to rethink my idea to install a rainhead in our reno!)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:50PM
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I had a reply but it got lost in the ether. I'll try again:

Look at using one 3371 and three 3600 valves. That'll give you control over all three heads. My experience with Moen is the simpler you keep things, the better.

For your needs, sure, put the handheld on a bracket. You can add a second bracket at knee height if you or your husband are leg shavers and that idea appeals to you.

Plastic handhelds? Unless you are bottom-feeding for price, don't worry. Today's handhelds are surprisingly good shower heads. Nothing like the garbage from 20 or 30 years ago.

I prefer metal hoses over plastic, they seem easier to clean and they hang better. Some of the lesser quality plastic hoses can hang funny.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Mant thanks to the wonderful responders. We originally installed two showerheads in our old shower so we could both shower at the same time, but DH quickly found he loved having both going at once for solo showers. His definition of luxery became being "immersed" in a shower.

Both our old shower heads were "standard" heads. Two rainshower heads in the rebuild became DH's "must do"; having the 2-funtion Velocity head is our compromise. We will see how it works. Adding the handheld has become my "backup" plan which I have rationalized as helpful for dog washing and to clean the shower. Pricey, but we have decided to do it.

Thanks for the input on the valves. I plan on pushing the "buy" button on my Amazon cart tonight.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:35PM
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DC, I looked at the Moen velocity heads, and they look really intriguing. How do you know what else to order when setting up your shower system? In our last bathroom we ordered a complete set from Hudson Reed, so all the parts came together. Looking at the Moen site, I don't see how I can 'build a system'.

Mongoct, how do I find those valves you mentioned, and how would I know what and if there are other parts I need?

Don't mean to hijack your thread DC, just felt it tied in with your questions...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:05PM
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I have done a lot of reading, much of it here and on the Moen site, and hopefully have ordered the right parts. Here is what we have purchased -

Rainshower heads - Moen S6320BN Velocity Two-Function 8-Inch Diameter Rainshower Showerhead, Brushed Nickel (two)

Arms to hold heads - Moen S113BN Waterhill 14-Inch Shower Arm, Brushed Nickel (two)

Handshower on bar - Moen 3867BN Four Function Massaging Handshower with Slide Bar, Brushed Nickel
Wall connection for handshower - Moen A725BN Drop Ell, Brushed Nickel

Rough-in valve - Moen 3330 M-PACT 1/2-Inch CC Transfer Valve

Handles for valves - Moen T4111BN Kingsley Moentrol Trim Kit without Valve, Brushed Nickel

Everyone’s list will vary. Some handshowers come in parts ��" faucet, hose, and slide bar separate. Ours came together, but we did have to purchase the “drop ell” to connect to the wall.

The valve was a bit tricky. There are lots of choices, and it can be tough to find good explanations of the differences. Google was my friend. You have to read very carefully. Sometimes the valve and the trim kits are sold together, others time separately. I saved a bit of money by buying the pieces separately - go figure.

Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask questions here. Everyone is very helpful.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:32PM
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"Mongoct, how do I find those valves you mentioned, and how would I know what and if there are other parts I need? "

While there are numerous valve combinations that could be used, the 3371/3600 option that I listed was simply one possible path to take. There is no real right or wrong path. The reason I listed an individual valve option for each shower head in this post is due to problems I've seen with some of the Moen multi-function valve systems. Not a big deal though.

Here is the Moen S3371 temperature control valve body. You'll also need a trim kit for it.

And here is the S3600 volume valve. Same, you'll need a trim kit for this valve too.

As to what other parts would be needed, things vary wildly. In general, for any shower you need to start with a thermostatic or pressure-balance supply valve. It can be just a temperature valve like the the one I listed, which in that case you'll also need a volume valve like the 3600 to control flow.

Or you can get a TS/PB valve that can also control volume. If you just have a single shower head, you're pretty much done there in terms of valves. If you have multiple shower heads, you can get a TS/PB valve that also has a built-in diverter, or you can get a separate diverter valve with its own trim kit.

The valves themselves aren't horribly expensive, but trim kits can be. Multiple valves can also create wall clutter too. Always match the trim kit to the valve. Regardless, once you have chosen your valve(s)...

Then you choose shower heads. Each shower head require a shower head and a separate shower arm. The shower head and arm can be independent of each other, and also independent of the valve manufacturer. They simply have to be the same thread size, which is pretty much universal at 1/2" threading.

Handhelds require a wall outlet, a handheld shower head, a hose to connect the wall outlet to the head, and a bracket or slide bar to hold the handheld. Some wall outlets can also serve as wall brackets. They are usually sold as a complete package, though you can stray outside that package to get a longer hose, etc.

I wish we had the edit function back when I made a few posts on this thread so I could go back, clean it up, and streamline it, as some of the information is old and much of it comes across as a bit scattered.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Thanks DC and Mongoct! Some days I think the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know! DH does all the plumbing, and I am sure he has a pretty good grasp of the mechanics, but I do all the shopping/purchasing, so if I decide to go with a shower where I need to buy all the various parts, frankly I feel lost. :>(

I had sort of decided to go with Hudson Reed again, (though DC's Moen shower head has me rethinking!) I will create a new post to ask questions regarding my shower...I really appreciate the help!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:41PM
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My Dh is pressuring me to make a final decision on the shower system. I revisited this post, and have spent hours on the Moen site, ebay,, and think I have a much better handle on all the bits and pieces. Thank you for your detailed list of parts. That really helped!

Have you installed your shower yet? I am wondering which arm to order. I think I like the Velocity head too, but don't know whether to get a curved arm like the Waterhill or just a straight one. What was your reasoning for choosing the Waterhill? I've only ever had a 'normal' shower head coming out of a 7" crooked arm, so am just guessing here...

Thanks again, and good luck with your shower!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:04PM
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